Most of a student’s college career is spent writing – and learning how to write. After all, part of becoming an educated individual is developing certain skills that will benefit one in their career after college. And one of those skills just happens to be writing.
Writing is an important skill because most good-paying jobs and careers require some level of writing proficiency. Salesmen, teachers, office managers all write on a daily basis; in fact, their writing skills allows them to better perform their job. By the time a student graduates with their college degree, regardless of their discipline and focus, they are generally adept at writing and reading in their language. They become experts in their language.
So, as a result, college students are given a multitude of writing assignments. They range from short responses to exam questions, from essays of all sorts, expository and argumentative essays, to term papers and research papers.
Basically, Academic Writing serves to have students convey information about a particular subject, topic or issue. It is expected to be precise, semi-formal, impersonal and objective.
Types of Academic Writing at the Undergraduate Level
• Essay – a short piece of writing on a particular subject, generally given to students in all academic disciplines and programs. The two kinds of essays are the Thesis-Supported Essay (which addresses a certain question or issue and offers a supporting Thesis) and an Informal Essay, which is more exploratory or reflective in nature.
• Research Essay – an essay that has been comprised of one’s research. A research essay/paper must also involve a real, often time-consuming search of any sources that might provide information and ideas, but only once the student-writer has identified a tentative research question.
• Summary (Reaction Papers) – a summary of something the student has read, designed to help them better their understand the reading material, and to convince one’s professor they have comprehended whatever they were assigned to read. In many cases, one’s instructor is expecting a particular kind of reaction, like, for example, a statement of whether the student-writer agrees or disagrees with the text, as well as their reasoning for coming to this conclusion.
• Journal – generally a writing assignment completed to resemble a journal entry, where the student-writer is to write an informal, open-ended essay about a particular topic. It is generally subjective and personal in nature.
• Book Review – an essay where the student-writer tells about a book they’ve read, providing a summary and why, if they would, advise other students to read it.
The Writing Process
The writing process for any essay generally starts with the student reading the instructions and requirements for the essay. Any essay that does not follow a professor’s instructions generally receives a low grade for the assignment. The process of writing an essay is part creativity, part following the stated directions, and part putting in the work necessary to write a good academic essay.
Once the student-writer has understood what the essay calls for and requires them to do, they should begin brainstorming ideas to write about, and then conduct ample research: the more they understand what they are writing about, the easier and simpler the writing process will be.
Then the student-writer brainstorms how they want to write their essay. This usually involves the student-writer creating an outline, which will help guide them as they write the essay. This outline is used to produce a first draft, which the student-writer will reread to confirm it honors the instructions for the assignment and that it conveys something – many times an argument or theme – to their reader.
Lastly, before turning in their essay for a graded evaluation, the student-writer should have someone else read their essay checking for logic, flow, and understandability, as well as academic standards. Another reader’s perspective is paramount for a student writer's ability to produce a worthy, excellent essay. Most times another pair of eyes can illuminate problems in the essay, and can help to ultimately improve it – whether by pinpointing punctuation and grammatical errors or by helping the student-writer fix certain problems in their writing.
Finally, once the essay has been corrected and polished, it can be turned in for a graded evaluation.
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